Jack Robinson's fight against a brain tumor earned him a legion of famous supporters

By Nate Jones
April 16, 2014 12:00 PM
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When 4-year-old Jack Robinson was diagnosed with a brain tumor in January, his parents knew that he might not have very much time left. The tumor was inoperable, and he had only a 5 percent chance of survival.

So Marie and Terence Robinson set about trying to make their son’s final days as memorable as possible. They helped Jack make a bucket list: See a meerkat, ride in a fire engine and meet British celebrities, like X Factor judge Gary Barlow and Doctor Who star Matt Smith.

The community soon rallied to help the young boy get his wishes. Family friends Melissa O’Donnell and Andrea Yearsley organized a #FightForJack campaign, complete with a Valentine’s Day fundraiser ball and charity auction. Portsmouth Football Club visited Jack and donated signed T-shirts for the cause, while a group of local bikers went on a 300-mile charity ride.

By late February, the campaign had attracted the notice of Barlow, who visited Jack in his hospital, and Smith, who recorded a video message for his young fan.

With all the support they received, Marie and Terence were able to cross off most of Jack’s bucket list, including an early 5th birthday for him and his twin brother, Liam, as well as an early Christmas. The only items he missed were a visit from actor David Tennant, who was out of the country, and a trip to Disneyland.

Jack died on April 1. On April 10, his parents gave him one last gift: a Star Wars-themed funeral, complete with an honor guard of Stormtroopers.

“Jack absolutely loved Star Wars,” O’Donnell told PEOPLE. “You would never see him without a lightsaber in his hands, right up to the end.”

R2-D2 was in attendance as the young boy was laid to rest to “The Binary Sunset,” Luke Skywalker’s theme from Star Wars: A New Hope. His coffin was decorated with images from the film and accompanied by a large wreath that read, “Jedi.”

A funeral procession of 60 people walked behind the carriage, including Liam and Jack’s three sisters, Danielle, Christina and Natalie.

Programs for the ceremony hailed Jack as a Jedi Master who had “joined the force” on April 1.

“I wanted his funeral to have a twist, because he was so unique,” Marie Robinson told the Portsmouth News.

“Jack was a lovely little boy, who was always smiling,” O’Donnell told PEOPLE. “My mum used to call him the boy with a thousand smiles.”

The funeral included traditional elements as well. Local singer Marnie Clements covered “I Will Always Love You,” while Marie Robinson played a version of Ellie Goulding’s “How Long Will I Love You” she had recorded for the occasion.

“Jack liked the song, and I liked to sing it with him,” Marie Robinson explained to the Portsmouth News.

“It was the loveliest funeral ever,” O’Donnell told PEOPLE. “Jack would have loved it.”

To honor Jack’s memory, his parents are suggesting mourners donate to the Naomi House Children’s Hospice, the CLIC Sargent cancer charity and the Rainbow Trust children’s charity.

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